Today is Sunday, August 20, 2017

Okay. March. Catch fish. Repeat.

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March can be one hot month for catching fish, especially smallmouth.

It can be a great month on Center Hill, Percy Priest and Old Hickory. IF...

It is a big if. We need three things to come together. We need enough warm weather for the water temps to start climbing toward the upper 50's and lower 60's.

We need the winds to cooperate and not blow us off the water and we need the water level to come up and stay up. Hard to get all three of those at the same time.

However, the water should be up some whether the Corps wants it to be or not. Rain does that.

Highly unlikely we are going to get all three.

Was a time, back several years, they brought Percy Priest up and held it by early to mid-March. When they did, we caught the fool out of big smallmouth. The brown fish tend to spawn before their largemouth cousins. Anytime you can find 55-degree water or warmer, you can find smallmouth. Well, almost anytime. The best places to look are the gravel and big rock banks just off the deeper channels. Look for them in water 8-12 feet deep. Y'all can throw whatever you want. I'm going to have a GitZit or Whirly Bee on light line and a suspending jerkbait on heavier line. I'll adjust as needed.

The same held true with Center Hill.

The smallmouth action started getting hot about the third week of March and peaked about April 15. That was when the water was at or near summer pool. Now, with the water level being just about anywhere from down in the river channel to up in the trees, who knows? I could start out in front of Holmes Creek and by the times I worked my way back to Edgar Evins ramp, I would have a box full and maybe one or two bragging size smallmouth.

Old Hickory is a different kind of dog. You can have a slam-bang day on the largemouth if you hit it right. Or it can be a complete bust.

But there is always a chance you can save the day with some crappie. I never know what I am going to throw at the bass until I start fishing. As a general rule, I'll have a shallow ShadRap on one rod for sure. Probably a Roadrunner on another and most likely a spinner bait on yet another. For the crappie, most likely I'll start with a pink-chartreuse, 1/8-oz jig.

Don't forget the spring bonus fish that are so popular (with Cajuns).

The Cajuns call them Gaspa Goo. I have called them a series of names but drum is what comes to mind. They too spawn in the spring and in the same places as the bass. Unfortunately, they like the same lures. They get big and they pull like a John Deere tractor. I have caught some big ones and they hurt my arm every time.

On Priest, if you want to and sometimes if you don't want to, you can also get into the hybrids and stripers.

One place to avoid is the roadbed out in front of...wait a minoozle.

In fact, where you need to fish for them is in front of Bear Island. Yep, that's a good place. For sure don't fish that big flat on the left, in front of the picnic area as you head upstream from the dam. It is the one with buoy anchored way out. No, you don't want to fish there.

I'll tell this quick story from 1983.

The late Mickey Pope and I launched his boat just before daylight on March 20. I know the date because it is written on the back of the picture. We put in at Elm Hill.

It was free back then. I had a black, 1/8-oz. Doll fly with a brown U-2 pork trailer on. We made a short run and cut the motor.

Before Mickey could get a lure tied on, I had huge smallmouth and bigger largemouth in the boat. Two five-pounders in two straight casts.

By good sunup, we had a stringer that would have won most tournaments on that lake. They came on the black jig and brown ones.

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